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Oregon lawmakers pass Rep. Levy bill aimed at trimming costs for life-saving prescription medicines

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- This week, Oregon lawmakers unanimously approved legislation from state Rep. Emerson Levy, D-Bend, requiring insurers to count coupons or other third-party payments toward annual deductibles, helping many Oregonians better afford life-saving medicines.

Jillian Fortner spoke Thursday with the executive director of Pacific Northwest Bleeding Disorders, who calls it a huge win for Oregonians who need costly medicines for life-threatening illnesses.

Here's the news release Levy's office put out on Tuesday, the day her bill gained approval:

Today, the Legislature passed Representative Emerson Levy’s Co-Pay Fairness Bill (HB 4113), legislation that helps Oregonians facing already high health care costs afford life-saving medicines. Rep. Levy introduced this concept to address health care affordability and lower everyday costs. 

In Oregon, some patients must either pay out of pocket for prescription drugs or stop taking them altogether because, under some commercial insurance plans,  insurance companies aren't required to accept financial assistance toward an enrollee’s annual deductible. Discontinuation of medication can lead to irreversible or life-threatening health consequences for chronic disease patients. 

Levy’s legislation, HB 4113 requires insurers to accept third-party financial assistance to an enrollee's annual deductible to pay for life-saving medicines. 

“Prescription drug costs are going up while Oregonians are feeling the squeeze. This bill is crucial to ease that burden for our most vulnerable Oregonians who depend on life-saving medication,” said Levy.

The Pacific Northwest Bleeding Disorders, an organization to enhance the quality of life for individuals with bleeding disorders, strongly advocated for the legislation. On its passing, PNWBD Executive Director Madonna McGuire Smith said: “This was such a misunderstood concept four years ago when we started pushing for this legislation. Today, our Oregon Legislators made a change that will result in a positive impact on thousands of Oregonians. Those with some of the most expensive chronic conditions will soon see more support and money in their pocket.” 

On the House Floor, Rep. Levy affirmed her commitment to continuing this work: “This is the first bill in a longer conversation about cleaning up this messy system of coupons and off-label prescribing in Oregon and nationally. I will continue to work to address the cost of prescriptions in Oregon.” 

Oregon is the 20th state to pass similar legislation. HB 4113 is on its way to the Governor's desk. 

Article Topic Follows: Bend

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Jillian Fortner

Jillian Fortner is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jillian here.


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